By Robert Larson
Southern Bastards is finally back, after a long hiatus. Both Sebastian Girner, the series editor, and Jason Latour lost their fathers within a few weeks of each other, and understandably this pushed back publication of the book. But I’ll be selfish and won’t lie: it’s good, damned good, to finally have this series back. We’re in the middle of several different threads of narrative payoff even as new ones take their place. All of the different factions and people around Boss want him dead, and he’s running out of ways to make himself indispensable to them. For once, his biggest problem isn’t going to be what happens next on the gridiron.
Really, for the first time in the course of the series, Coach Boss seems beleaguered. He’s been under attack before, he’s been squaring off against some potential enemy, and he’s lost a major football game, but he seems surrounded on all his sides right now. The fact that Boss is willing to listen to a group of outsiders about what to do next and about making peace with some of the enemies that he’s made tells you the desperate kind of straits that he’s in. But even if he manages to square things with his various football rivals, the mayor, the sheriff, and the hermit are all considering how best to strike at him. And of course, there’s Roberta Tubb, who’s launched her own war against Boss.
This issue does cover a considerable amount of narrative ground, often meaning that we jump around a fair bit, and in general, more happens in this issue than a typical outing for this book. Without any major spoilers, the kind of violence or drama that we encounter here would normally be spread out over two or three different issues rather than one. Of course, returning to the series after a long hiatus does call for a bit to whet the readers’ appetites, and we do get that. It only becomes a problem when we have to jump around in time. Trying to connect Esaw’s storyline with the others’ is a bit confusing because so much time seems to lapse elsewhere, but perhaps there’s a connection I’m missing.
I also won’t lie, I’ve been excited for this book to come back because of the news. Southern Bastards is not a series that has been shy about tackling politics, and unless you’ve been under a rock, the Old South is back in the news again. Of course, this particular issue can’t hope to tackle what happened in Charlottesville; the events are less than a week old. But Latour and Aaron are smart men, and I imagine there’s an opportunity to talk about statues or Robert E. Lee or the Stars and Bars, and why these symbols and monuments, built decades after the war’s end have this continuing significance to angry white men today.
Welcome back, Southern Bastards. Keep up the good work.
Southern Bastards #17
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Publisher: Image Comics